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are yet to be read on sepulchres of stone. It is not from that distant bourne where the last ray of starlight trembles on the telescopic eye, that man is to receive the great secret of the world's birth, or of his future destiny. It is from the deep vaults to which primeval life has been consigned that the history of the dawn of life is to be composed.
Geologists have read that chronology backwards, and are deciphering downward its pale and perishing alphabet. They have reached the embryos of vegetable existence, the probable terminus of the formation that has buried them. But who can tell what sleeps beyond ? The mortal coils of beings more lovely, more pure, more divine than man, may yet read to us the unexpected lesson, that we have not been the first and may not be the last of the intellectual race.*”
A noble passage-as profound as it is eloquent! and yet the man who could thus characterize "startling generalization" falls into the same original sin of science. On the most slender grounds, as is well known, he embraced as a certainty, the possibility of the doctrine of "more worlds than one," and stamped the theory of the Planets and Asteroids being inhabited, as "the creed of the Philosopher and the hope of the Christian." His coarse attack on Whewell for daring to doubt this, in the "Plurality of Worlds," is too well known as a melancholy example of the inveterate habit of theorizing. Those who feel pleasure in seeing such an onslaught well met and repelled, read with instructed satisfaction the temperate but irresistible answer of the accomplished Master of Trinity.
A very large class of minds shrink with undisguised dislike from every inquiry which may possibly clash with any firmly established doctrine or theory. This conservative feeling has done good service in its day, and must not be lightly despised, but it must not be pushed beyond legitimate bounds. The Brahmin dashed the microscope to the ground, and cursed the art which shewed him myriads of objects floating in a glass of his daily drink from his sacred Ganges. Our Newton was branded as an Arian heretic for questioning the genuineness of the celebrated half verse in St. John's epistle. Few scholars will now-a-days do battle for it. We can hardly afford to imitate the judicial blindness of the Brahmin. We must be careful, even in defence of things we consider sacred, not to imitate the assailants of Newton.
More Worlds than One.
Everything, whatever may be its position in the veneration of the world, must in an age like this, stand the test of criticism. Its claims, in our belief, must be prepared for strict examination.
No faithful heart need fear the result-the dross will shrivel and wither in the fiery test-the pure gold will remain fairer than ever.
Hardly a year has elapsed since the now famous "Essays and Reviews," startled the sober minded world from its propriety. A hundred so called answers have fluttered in hot haste from the press, a wild storm of rebuke has come from many throats-none however so loud or so virulent as those whose owners had never read a line of the work in question. To the infinite profit of publisher and fame of authors, it has taken its place very high up in the "Index Expurgatorius." In common with many others who have taken the trouble to read the book, I think its publication will ultimately effect a large amount of good, and will succeed in pouring a flood of light on some of the questions suggested. Most of the views that have caused alarm, possess no novelty whatsoever, but as one of their most sensible opponents has happily said, "what is put forward as new lights is simply ancient darkness." Some of the as yet half investigated phenomena of Geology, are made to speak with far too certain a voice, as to the past history both of man, and the earth on which he stands, and onslaughts are made on popular opinions, on premises as yet, I humbly conceive, wholly insufficient to support the writers conclusions. But the real mischief which the book may possibly work, lies in the very unfair, though not unexpected use which the openly avowed opponents of Revelation have hastened to make of its too rash admissions and concessions.
The only legitimate object of introducing the notice of this work into these remarks lies in the intimate relation, which, in the world's judgment, exists between its conclusions and the labours of material science. A certain looseness of expression adopted by the Essayists has contributed largely to the formation of this opinion.
For one example out of many I may notice the loose language used in discussing the Mosaic Cosmogony, as possibly, "the speculations of a Hebrew Newton or Descartes." This expression, besides jarring unpleasantly on most ears, will not bear any critical examination, and is in fact as unjust to the Hebrew Lawgiver as to the modern astro
A large portion of thinkers will possibly consider that the book, amongst other points of value, is sound in its enunciations of the true
canons of interpretation and critical analysis, applicable alike to sacred and secular composition. The most utterly unsatisfactory part of the book, and possibly that part to which scientific men will feel least indulgent, is the laboured article against miracles, where the writer speaks of all cultivated minds recognizing "the impossibility of any modification whatsoever in the existing conditions of material agents, unless through the invariable operation of a series of eternally impressed cousequences, following in some necessary chain of orderly connections, however imperfectly known to us ;" and again, "The simple but grand truth of the law of Conservation and the stability of the heavenly motions, now well understood by all sound cosmical philosophers, is but the type of the universal, self-sustaining, and selfevolving powers which pervade all nature."
This is the key note of much to the same effect, and to my unspeculative mind the whole seems coloured by an inveterately hasty adoption of conclusions as being indisputable and universal, whilst still resting on very loosely established premises. The assumed "immutability of the laws of nature," is the ground work, and an exaggerated exultation of such "laws," and a practical depreciation of the power and will of the Lawgiver, the result. The writer last qucted has already passed from shadows to realities, and sees now mayhap with clearer vision, having long, like ourselves, “seen as through a glass darkly."
Most of my hearers have read the very nobly expressed article on the "Immutability of Nature," in a late periodical. The phrase itself is denounced as "not only involving a violation of the first laws of accurate inductive reasoning, but charged with most perilous conclusions to Christion Faith unless it be carefully modified." Again, "Incautious language is the dry-rot of the world. The historians and philosophers of physical science remind us in every page, of the power of words, mere words-warn us, how they necessarily contain the sporules of mighty principles, how they give to those principles wings to fly, and filaments to root them in the earth, and a power of propagation able to cover the whole field of truth with the most noxious weeds, so that when once their hold is taken it is almost hopeless to eradicate them," and very appositely is the great name of Newton made to repeat how God acts in what is called Nature. "Secundum leges accuratas ut naturæ totius fundamentum et causa, conslanter coöperans, nisi ubi aliter agere bonum est," according to uniform laws except when it be good for Him to act otherwise.
As I have already remarked a flood of light is being turned upon many of the subjects thus peculiarly brought before the public.
The full discussion thus elicited will, amongst other good effects, serve to dissipate an uneasy feeling which prevailed extensively, of the vast superiority of German critical analysis and explorations of the text of the sacred writings.
It seemed almost conceded that no names could be found to weigh against the established reputations of the Bauers, De Wettes, and Strausses. General readers may feel somewhat reassured by the mention of such names as Hengstenberg and Max Müller, and others brought prominently forward of late, as occupying very different, although equally honourable places among German philologists.
Science has not been false to her great mission on earth, and has advanced torch in hand to explore and light up many of the dark caverns of which the black mouths alone have been exhibited to us, by those, who seem rather to delight in pointing out darkness than in striving to explore it. Patient research has journeyed toilsomely through lonely and savage lands to trace out perishing characters of the elder days, on Idumean tomb, Egyptian obelisk, or Assyrian trophy. It has called to its aid a wondrous handmaiden, the photographic art, to copy the ancient letters as in a mirror, and patiently has it unravelled the strange alphabet, hieroglyphic, or Cufic or Cuneiform, till the world was shewn the cotemporaneous record of a Sesostris or a Nebuchadnezzar.
The Bampton Lecturer for 1859, Mr. George Rawlinson, has given us a noble contribution to the Christian Evidences, wholly drawn from the sources of profane history, and the recent decipherings of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian records. I cannot refrain from giving two brief examples of these interesting testimonies, if only ta shew how truly worthy of perusal is such a work in such an age. Those who wished to impugn the book of Daniel, are wont to point out that while the prophet makes Belshazzar the last King of Babylon and slain at its capture, the historian Berosus gives Nabonadius as the last native king, that he was absent from the city at its capture and was not slain but taken prisoner by Cyrus. This was embarrassing. But Sir Henry Rawlinson, the gifted brother of the lecturer, found an inscription in 1854, at Mugheir, the ancient, "Ur of the Chaldees," stating that Nabonadius the last King, during the later years of his reign, associated with him in the throne his son "Bil-shar-uzur," and allowed him the royal title. There can be little doubt, he adds, that
it was this prince who conducted the defence of Babylon and was there slain.
Again, we all know the strange wild story of Nebuchadnezzar's madness as told in Daniel. Among the records of this great King's reign a most remarkable inscription, known as the "Standard Inscription," has been found which offers grave matter to the thoughtful. It is written in the first person by the King himself, and tells us that during some considerable time-four years apparently—all his great works were at a stand, he did not build high places, he did not lay up treasures, he did not sing the praises of his Lord, Merodach, he did not offer him sacrifices, he did not keep up the works of irrigation. No explanation is given or cause assigned. But I must not trespass too much on your indulgence in pursuing this, to me at least, singularly attractive theme.
The marvels of Science will always possess a fascination and attraction for a large class of youthful minds. The blue depths of the midnight heavens will attract some, the chronicles of earth's life, cut deeply in her rugged pages will call others to read their story. Modern skill and appliances can unfold marvels from the common sights of nature. "If the stars," says Emerson, "had looked out upon the night but once in a thousand years, how the legend would have gone from father to son, of the City of God thus revealed unto man."
If the vast field of heaven were in like manner unfolded to man's observation as the astronomer has it before him in telescopic vision, the moon mapped out into monntain chasm and arid valley; the planets glorified in size and splendour, girt with luminous bands and "satellites burning in a lucid ring," as glowing a tale of enchantment could be framed for the wonder of the world.
And startling are the hints of things probable, though as yet unproved, occasionally suggested to us. Photography suggests that the image of every scene on which the eye has rested, remains painted on the retina, a vast picture gallery for memory to unlock and gaze on at pleasure. It is hinted to us that nothing once received by the ear is ever lost, but is stamped upon the brain to be recalled or used at will, or to be brought back at the touch of some secret spring. Or, more startling still, that every sound, everything spoken, never dies, but goes forth in a widening circle among the waves of space; that the great cry that went up in the Egyptian midnight, that the